What’s happening now in Iraq is one more outbreak of what has been happening in that part of the world for a very long time. Only American arrogance and exceptionalism would have you believe that we could solve it or replace it with some version of democracy.
It’s not that the Shia and the Sunnis are incapable of appreciating freedom and democracy; they just would rather have something else, thank you very much. Not every nation or culture or belief system fits into our mold.
The tragedy isn’t that we Americans can’t go in now and stop the fighting. The tragedy is that we never should have gone there in the first place in 2003.
[…] this is the upshot of the decision made in March 2003. There is no other realistic or honest way to understand it. How President Obama handled the departure is really largely irrelevant. To paraphrase the Emperor Tiberius (whose line was later picked in an apt but ugly rendering by Thomas Jefferson), when you’re holding a wolf by the ears, just how you choose to let go is largely beside the point. Late in the last decade we had a simple choice. Stay in the country basically forever and keep the lid more or less on the powder keg or leave and leave it untended – with all that implies. The country didn’t want us to stay and so we left. Without the US to hold together the pieces we broke apart, a drive toward authoritarianism or fracture was close to inevitable.
As is the case with all civil wars and struggles, the war will end when the people fighting it want it to, not because someone else says so. That only spreads the blood.